“If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” – Albert Einstein
We all know that it all starts with the idea. But sometimes we come up with all kinds of excuses why one or another idea will not work: too stupid, too simple, too complicated, too expensive… Sounds familiar? Keep on reading. Here is our top 6 crazy business ideas that actually worked. We hope that it will give you more faith in your idea too.
1. Slinky. Richard James, a naval engineer, has come up with the idea of turning 17 meters of flat steel into millions of dollars. It was born when Mr. James was trying to use a steel spring to stabilize some naval devices on the ship – he accidentally dropped the tension spring on the ground and that’s how the Slinky was born. There were more than 100 Million Slinkies sold in the first couple of years that now are estimated to be equivalent to 1 billion in revenue.
2. The Pet Rock. Have you ever thought that you could actually make millions by…selling rocks? Well, Gary Dahl back in 1975 believed so. Thanks to his great marketing scheme “The Pet Rock” made him millions of dollars practically overnight. Each “Pet” (for a cost price of 1 cent a piece) was packed in a cute cardboard carrying box with a holes in it. The Pet Rock came up with owner’s manual bearing instructions on how to train and feed “the beast”. At a selling price of $ 3.95 more than 1.5 million of Rock Pets were sold just in a few brief months. That brought Mr. Dahl more than 5 million dollars.
3. The guy who sold the Brooklyn Bridge. Paul Hartunian, came into history as the first person that legally sold world-famous landmark – the Brooklyn Bridge. After seeing on the television that the Bridge is under renovation and old wooden walkway that was removed will be thrown away, he quickly called the supervisor of the construction workers and agreed to buy the wood for $ 500. He then arranged the wood to be cut into small pieces and attached the wood to the certificates he has printed where he included a few lines about the history of the Bridge. He then did a killer press release saying “New Jersey Man Sells Brooklyn Bridge… for $14,95!”. The gig made him hundreds of thousands of dollars.
4. Everything men know about women. Cindy Cashman, under the pseudonym of Dr. Alan Francis has wrote a book named “Everything Men Know about Women”. The thing was that the book was completely blank… (since men know nothing about women…). Instead of aiming the book stores, Cindy focused on places where women often hang out – supermarkets, clothing stores etc. so the book has made a perfect gift and in less than 3 years there were sold over 1 million of copies. Cindy lived happily ever after…
5. Uber – now you think – “what’s so crazy about Uber?” Think about it – world’s largest taxi/car company… that neither owns any taxis nor employs any drivers! The idea matured when Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp had some trouble in getting a cab. These two guys simply wanted to get into party organized by the Huffington Post, but the place they were staying at were quite away from the venue. This was the proof that getting a car in such instances is an idea worth developing. Ever since it had change the way of commuting in cities across the globe. Although Uber is not making (rather loosing) money, but 3.4 billion in revenue sounds pretty impressive to me. Plus, Uber has managed to reduce their losses compared with the previous years.
6. AirBnB – the Company can be described as a largest accommodation provider in the world… that owns ZERO real estate for accommodation. The turning point for the company was inauguration of Barack Obama back in 2009. The owners of the little-know airbedandbrekfast.com put their efforts to offer an unusual accommodation for the event – to rent empty floors, walk in-closets and basements etc. They spent their days passing out flyers at the metro station during the event. Now AirBnB is way ahead of such hotel grands as Marriot and Hilton. Company counts USD 93 million in profit on USD 2.6 billion in revenue.
All of the above offered a new twist to and existing idea and despite the controversy has made to the Olympus of entrepreneurs (or at least my list).
Thanks for reading!